SATURDAY, 3 MARCH, 2001, 11.00AM


St Paul lists peace as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Peace comes about when people know what they ought to do and also have the courage to do it fearlessly, despite all the obstacles.

When the Good Friday Agreement was signed, I believe the Holy Spirit was very much at work. After long negotiations the parties agreed that certain measures had to be taken in order to establish a lasting peace. They found the courage to take the risks involved and to sign up to the Agreement. As a result there was great joy – which is another fruit of the work of the Holy Spirit.

Since then significant progress has been made in many areas of the Peace Agreement. However, there are other areas where there has been some but insufficient progress.

In the Agreement there is a commitment to the total disarmament of all paramilitary organisations. There is a promise to work constructively and in good faith with the Independent Commission. There is an undertaking to use influence to bring about the decommissioning of all paramilitary arms. Again there was great joy when people read those words in the Agreement.

Good faith is crucial to the survival of the Agreement. If that good faith is to survive more progress has to be made in this area and it has to be made now.

I am delighted to hear that the pro-Agreement parties are planning to meet soon. I pray and I ask all of you to pray that they will sit down together. I hope that in their discussions all will see honestly and truthfully what they have got to do now to ensure that the peace process survives. If they do so I am confident that they will once again get the courage to play their part and to help each other play their part fearlessly, in spite of all difficulties.

If they do so I believe that they will find the Holy Spirit and a huge number of people once again very much on their side. Understanding and trust will grow. The search for a lasting peace to which the pro-Agreement parties have so courageously and so wisely committed themselves could once again breathe life and hope. I ask all who sincerely want peace to pray that this may happen – for the sake of us all and especially for the good of the young people confirmed here today.